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Techies hit Vancouver for GROW conference

The techies are in town, and Vancouver ideally wants them to stay put – or at least leave a little cash before they go back to Silicon Valley.

The fourth annual GROW conference, a three-day event held to help connect entrepreneurs with big-time angel investors in order to help them grow, expects to attract more than 1,000 people from around the world this year, according to organizers.

It’s part of a push by both startups and the government to make Vancouver one of the top tech cities in the world, and perhaps help bolster another company like Hootsuite, the local social media company recently valued at $1-billion.

“We want to see our local companies grow. We want to attract other companies to come, because it has to be an ecosystem,” said Joan Elangovan, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission. 

More British Columbians are employed in tech jobs than in traditional fields such as mining, forestry and oil and gas, Elangovan said, a “phenomenal” feat for the fast-growing industry.

The city also placed in the top 10 for global startup ecosystems, she added. “It’s not in terms of population that big, but it certainly pulls its weight,” she said.

Attracting and growing technology firms is one of city council’s goals on its quest to make Vancouver the “greenest” city. 

“We certainly have a lot to be proud of, with as many as 60 tech companies in Vancouver making the 2013 Profit List of the fastest growing companies in Canada,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement. (Video surveillance company Avigilon was the fastest growing company in the country this year.)

“At city hall we want to do everything we can to ensure the tech sector is supported, more jobs are created right here in Vancouver, and that this momentum continues.”

Council is decidedly less friendly with resource firms, and in June issued a ban on coal exports from within city limits.

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